Light the Night, DC 2012

This weekend I participated in the DC Light the Night Walk, for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I did it with a friend from my First Descents trip who is a Lymphoma survivor. Here’s a picture – I’m the one toward the middle of the photo looking up at the blurry white balloon, with a glow-stick necklace and green scarf.

I enjoyed being at an event supporting awareness and research for a cancer other than breast cancer, especially during breast cancer awareness month. I don’t want to start a rant about “Pinkwashing“, because so many others have already done it for me and I’m trying this new zen thing where I don’t dwell on things that stress me out, but suffice it to say that I’ve seen some really stupid BCA partnerships (Kentucky Fried Chicken?) and events (e.g. Boozin’ for Boobs, which raises awareness through, you guessed it, getting good and drunk on a substance that’s been proven to raise your risk of breast cancer).

Back on topic, at the walk there was a young woman, probably around my age, who was clearly in the middle of treatment. She was wearing a hat to cover her bald head and she was wide-eyed and kind of terrified-looking. I obviously don’t know what’s going through her head but it brought me back to my own journey and how it felt to be in the middle of treatment – like everyone was looking at you and thinking “poor girl”. It’s crazy how far I’ve come from being that person. At the walk, we were just having fun. We ate cotton candy, made buttons, played kid games, and talked to a guy on stilts. Had this been a year ago, I probably would have felt more camaraderie with the people there, but instead I felt detached. Like I wasn’t one of them. It feels good and sad at the same time. Obviously no one wants to go back to having cancer after they’ve moved on from it, but, for me, I felt safest and most cared for during treatment, and that was a good feeling.

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Back at home and it…

feels so good. By home, I mean I am at my parents’ house in Philadelphia for two weeks to recover in comfort before I have to return to DC for some follow ups. Thank goodness for teaching hospitals that have spring break – because my doctors will be off, it means I get some much needed time away from the hospital and I get to be in a big, light-filled house with my parents, who are wonderful cooks, instead of in my teeny little apartment in DC with an endless supply of frozen pizza. It’s the small things in life, I tell ya.

Today I am one week post mastectomy and I feel great. As I posted yesterday, the doctor relayed the verbal path report she got from the pathologist, which showed all negative sentinel nodes. They are still waiting for something called an IHC report, which, in rare cases, shows some cancerous cells and can cause them to go back over the other tests they’ve done more carefully, but the surgeon assured me this was only in rare cases. So, as I said, I feel great with all the news we’ve been receiving and with my recovery.

In case you want to see what hot post-mastectomy wear looks like, here’s a pic of me (no face included) wearing my compression bra with the post-mastectomy drains pinned to it. Don’t look if you’re squeamish – the drains are filled with red fluid and I’ve got bruises on my lower belly from the heparin (blood thinner) injections they did at the hospital.